The Economic Man

Who cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?  Katrine Marcal’s rhetorical question and her book title give her the opportunity to challenge and illuminate the economics in relation to feminism and by extension to the weaker group of people and societies.

She writes that Adam Smith told us the story  of why free markets were the best way to create an efficient economy. The self-interest of one and all ensures that the whole comes together.  It’s not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their interest. You can trust self-interest. Self Interest is inexhaustible, this is  the ‘Invisible hand’ which looks after all.

With this notion the economic man was born into the new age. Just like Robinson Crusoe, economic man was a modern entrepreneur who freed himself from old, irrational oppressions. He determined his life and let others determine theirs. He was highly capable. Work has no intrinsic value, but if you’re going to get anywhere, you have to do it. He makes goals, fights to achieve them, ticks them off and moves on.  The world’s resources are limited. And he admires those who succeed.
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Emotion, altruism, thoughtfulness, solidarity are not part of his character. For economic man there’s no childhood, no dependencies and no society that affects him. Rational, selfish and divorced from his environment. Alone on an island or alone in society, it doesn’t matter. There is no society, only mass of individuals.

 Since Adam Smith’s time, the theory about economic man has hinged on someone else standing for care, thoughtfulness and dependency. Economic man stands for reason and freedom precisely because someone else stands for the opposite. The world can be said to be driven by self-interest because there’s another world that is driven by something else. And these two worlds must be kept apart. The masculinity by itself. The feminine by itself.

If you want to be part of the story of economics you have to be like economic man. You have to accept this version of masculinity. At the same time, what we call economics is always built on another story. Everything that is excluded so the economic man can be who he is.  Somebody has to be emotion , so he can be reason. Somebody has to be body, so he doesn’t have to be. Somebody has to be dependent, so he can be independent. Somebody has to be tender, so he can conquer the world. Somebody has to be self-sacrificing, so he can be selfish.

Somebody has to prepare that steak so Adam Smith can say their labour doesn’t matter.

But Adam Smith only succeeded in answering half of the fundamental question of economics and it was quite convenient  answer for the economic man of our days . He didn’t get his dinner only because the tradesmen served their own self-interest but because his mother made sure it was on the table every evening.  Today the economic is not built only with “invisible hand” but also it is built with “invisible heart”.-

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The economic man show emotions!

From Russia with love

There is a boom of the Russian art exhibitions in London lately and this phenomenon is poured out in the name of loan between the two countries, Russia and Britain. Russian artefacts are imported to Britain  and Greek artefacts  are exported to Russia! People in decision-making positions argue that art is a powerful tool of diplomacy and certainly this is what the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor argued when he lent one of the Greek sculpture of Parthenon – the headless statue of a Greek god Ilissos  to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in order to honour its opening. At least the Russians lend their own and veritable Russian artefacts, without treats and tricks and changing the meanings of what belongs to whom.

Anyway this is not the subject of this post but  the exhibition which is taking place at the Gallery Saatchi  in London with title “The legacy of WWII in Russian Art” and marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the world war II and it’s an attempt to allow viewers to get a perception of Soviet art as well as stimulate a dialogue between the Russian and British experience of war.

 

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An exhibition well put which gives a short perception what was happening in the art spectrum during the Soviet period. The prominent art style during that period is the socialistic realism part of realistic art which allegedly its purpose was furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Some others  believe that artistic life of that period was  not suppressed by the ideology and the proof is the great number of landscapes, portraits and genre paintings which pursued technical purposes and thus were free from any ideology.

The viewers of this particular exhibition can see that both cases can be true.

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The Yalta conference 1945.IMG_2243_2

Stalin approving a USSR model of the pavillion, Paris 1937.

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Art can be a tool of  diplomacy and smooth out in some ways the differences between Russia and Britain and generally the west. But Russians – as Andrei Nekrasov thinks as well as this was my  perception of the people in Kazakhstan- feel their national identity most strongly when they come under pressure from the outside (see Crimea, sanctions etc). “The new Russian ideology presents European values as part of a hypocritical propaganda the west uses to rationalise its pursuits of geopolitical and economic interests. Westerners should not compromise on their values. But they should also be aware that neither economic sanctions nor military help for Ukraine are the right antidote to Russia’s new ideology. Instead they are potential trigger that could turn a suspicious Russia into an outright enemy”  says Andrey Nekrasov, film and television director.

Meanwhile we shall see how Alexis Tsipras’ diplomatic skills will work with Putin on 9 April. He will be the first European leader to travel to Moscow since the assassination of Boris Nemtsov. Therefore he can play a double role as European leader  and supporter of the people who feel crushed-creating a bridge between Europeans and Russians – something like that will help to elevate his position  among the European leaders. So far, he has proved himself as a good communicator and now it’s an opportunity to prove himself as a proud member of the European Union!